Diagnosis, follow-up and treatment of cystic fibrosis-related liver disease

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To provide an insight and overview of the challenges in the diagnosis, follow-up and treatment of cystic fibrosis-related liver disease (CFLD).

Recent findings

The variable pathophysiology of CFLD complicates its diagnosis and treatment. A ‘gold standard’ for CFLD diagnosis is lacking. Over the past years, new techniques to diagnose features of CFLD, such as transient elastography, have been investigated. Although most of these tests confirm cystic fibrosis-related liver involvement (CFLI), they are, however, not suitable to distinguish various phenotypical presentations or predict progression to clinically relevant cirrhosis or portal hypertension. A combined initiative from the European and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition has been started, aimed to obtain consensus on CFLD criteria and definitions. Currently, only ursodeoxycholic acid is used in CFLD treatment, although it has not been convincingly demonstrated to change the natural course of the disease. Drugs that directly target cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator protein dysfunction show promising results; however, more long-term follow-up and validation studies are needed.

Summary

CFLD is an umbrella term referring to a wide variety of liver manifestations with variable clinical needs and consequences. CFLD with portal hypertension is the most severe form of CFLD due to its significant implications on morbidity and mortality. The clinical relevance of other CFLI is uncertain. Consensus on CFLD definitions is essential to validate new diagnostic tools and therapeutic outcome measures.

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